The Boneyard

•November 22, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The Boneyarder waits for you to linger
Before sinking his rotting teeth
In your milky white flesh
What’s your hurry? What your rush?
Won’t you stay a while?
The afterlife will still be there tomorrow.


Encyclopedia of a Life Lived

•December 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

[A work in progress]


The following is an attempt to provide the reader with the basic climate, surroundings, and customs of my life.

Favorite Television Shows

Gilmore Girls

House, M.D.

Veronica Mars

America’s Next Top Model

Pushing Daisies

Project Runway

Most Frequently Used Words






Most Frequent Dialogue with Coworkers

Hi, how are you?

Fine, thanks. You?

Hey, what’s up?

Not much, you?

Most Frequent Dialogue with Customers

Hi, I’ll be right with you.

Yes, I’d like a Half-Caf Triple Grande Nonfat No Whip Two and One-Third Splenda White Mocha Steamed to EXACTLY One-Hundred Eighty Three Degrees.


Things Shouted at Other Drivers when Angry



Commonly Used Slang



Fo’ Sho’


Favorite Colors



Purple (again)

Languages Spoken



Spanish (un poco)

American Sign Language

Table: What my childhood tasted like:

Item Notes
Junior Mints Snuck into evangelism meetings.
Green beans If I didn’t finish them for dinner, I ate them for breakfast.
Catfish Fried, usually.
Cornish hens What my mom made for Thanksgiving the year I studied medieval history.
Homemade pie Mississippi Mud was my favorite, as I got older I discovered it was too rich. This is a sad day.
Candy cane ice cream It just wasn’t Christmas for me and my cousins without it.
Grape nuts The usual cereal fare at the house
Alpha-bits (not the frosted kind) The only remotely sugary cereal my mom ever bought
Cookie Crisp The cereal I got to eat at my dad’s house
Shake & Bake What my stepmom cooked every night we didn’t go out/order in. I never helped.
Coffee After holiday dinners, the cousins would get to drink “coffee” with the adults if we wished when we were twelve. It was roughly one-part coffee, thirty-parts whipped cream.
Gummy bears I’d stuff my pockets with these before we left the buffet.
Pot roast Grandmother made this on every holiday ever. There was never enough and it was always really dry and kind of gross.
Tapioca pudding For the first twenty years of my life, Grandmother made this for two of my cousins a few times a year as a special treat, but never me. It was my favorite, too.


1986 – Mary Christa is born at North Charleston Naval Hospital, Charleston, South Carolina, on January 29th at 19:42. Head is in the top 1% largest. Mother will remind her of this for years to come.

1987 – Relocates to Virginia Beach, Virginia.

1988 – Went to the boardwalk, lots of pictures taken of Mary Christa. Perhaps more on this outing than all of the rest of childhood combined. Also, falls off hood of van onto head in driveway; subsequently loses all feeling in forehead.

1989 – Mary Christa discovers coffee mugs. Begins lifelong obsession with buying every cute* mug in which she comes in contact. *definition of “cute” subject to change

1990 – Steps on a bee.

1991 – Parents separate; Father moves out.

1992 – Begins acting career as Dead Girl in production of The Man Called Jesus at Kempsville Presbyterian Church.

1993 – Gets car sick for the first time while driving through the Smoky Mountains visiting Grandmother in Tennessee; throws up all over the back seat directly after breakfast at the Burning Bush restaurant in Gatlinburg.

1994 – Develops first crush on a boy. His name is Jeremy Van Valin. Mary Christa makes him a valentine that has two spiders on it in wedding attire and reads “I hope we can be newly webs, too!” Mother finds it before she can give it to him.

1995 – Mother runs out of decent ideas for biblical costumes for Mary Christa to wear to church’s annual harvest festival; goes as the Seven Days of Creation. This involves a basic angel costume with Genesis Bible verses and corresponding toys sewn to the body/dress and the halo; no wings worn.

1996 – Relocates to Chattanooga, Tennessee because ceiling of previous house caves in four days before Christmas due to frozen pipes.

1997 – Parents finally divorce. Mary Christa lives briefly with Father and Stepmother in Seattle, Washington. Learns how to manipulate to get what she wants. Example: Tantrum in the Navy Exchange = Tamagotchi.

1998 – Discovers the Newsboys (a contemporary Christian rock band). Remain favorite band/artist until she discovers secular music in college. This is also the year Mary Christa discovers metallic eye shadow and graphic tees with cartoons of cute animals.

1999 – Mother takes hoarding obsession to new levels in preparation of upcoming Y2K potential computer crash/end of world/Rapture. She also ruins Mary Christa’s life by not letting her go anywhere on New Year’s Eve.

2000 – Mary Christa joins a local Homeschool Mock Trial team, earns a Best Witness award in fall tournament. Becomes obsessed and stays in Mock Trial until graduation from high school. This, somewhat ironically, is a catalyst for her return to Not Awkward Fashion.

2001 – Fails eye test (left eye only) for Learner’s Permit. Goes to eye doctor, gets glasses. Retakes eye test with glasses, still fails with left eye. Gets doctor’s note, receives permit without passing eye test with left eye.

2002 – Mother teaches Mary Christa to drive on a 1997 manual transmission Chevy Cavalier. A lot of tears and screaming occur in the almost year-long process.

2003 – Dislocates a disk in her spine by falling out of a swing at park during Mock Trial practice.

2004 – Aunt passes away from a year and a half long battle with breast cancer. This is Mary Christa’s first encounter with death; seems unreal that someone who was just here is gone forever.

-End of childhood-




The rash crept up my right arm and onto my neck before the nurse could get the test fluids off me. The scratches were supposed to stay untouched for twenty minutes to test the severity of my allergies before they removed them; only four minutes had passed and they feared I would go into shock any minute. The nurse swabbed a cotton ball up and down my arm as the room blurred and darkened and I slumped over the counter on which my up-turned arms rested. Moments later I returned to consciousness as a large needle of epinephrine was removed from my thigh and a cold cloth dripped down my neck and onto my shirt collar.



When I was five, it was a big thing to have your birthday party at McDonald’s. I had a princess crown and we played in the ball pit (back before they were deemed unsanitary and banned). It was awesome.


I didn’t get braces until I was twenty years old. I had them for three years. While waiting in the front office with a bunch of twelve- and thirteen-year-olds to be seen by the orthodontist, I would find solace when someone who looked my parents’ age walked in with braces, too. In retrospect, they probably didn’t get that same feelings of self-assurance.


When I was twenty-five, I found out I had an eight-year-old half-brother named Drue.



When I was eighteen, my Aunt Valerie (mom’s sister) died from breast cancer. I had never seen anyone die before. The night before she died, I sat in the sunroom and held her hand. It was swollen, bluish white, and cold. She turned her head and spoke to me as I stared at her in silence, unable to form words. Though incoherent, her voice had a shrill pitch and watery growl that fell through her cracked and swollen lips. She smiled as I told her how much I loved her.


My uncle died (Valerie’s husband) from a form of brain cancer when I was twenty. I was driving the restaurant’s panel van when I got the call from my cousin. “He’s…he’s gone,” was all she could muster. We cried in silence and the road melted away for a moment. The rest of our conversation is a blur, but the exact stretch of road and the smell of the Mexican food in the back of the van combined with the stench of old, cracked leather seats come back immediately whenever I think about it.



Driving past a funeral home and seeing the parking lot full.
When egg nog goes away after the holidays.
Looking at pictures of myself when I was nineteen.
Those abused puppy commercials with Sarah McLachlan singing “In the Arms of the Angels” in the background.
Misspellings and improper punctuation on published material.
My dog’s face when I leave the house.
Pop music.



When I was twenty-three, I was diagnosed with an egg allergy. I love eggs. And egg nog. And everything made with eggs.


I stood in a line shoulder to shoulder to with thirty or forty others at the front of the convention center waiting to be healed. Thousands stood in the stadium seats at our backs and looked on, waiting to a see a miracle. The evangelist stood before us, going down the line anointing each person’s head and praying for whatever ailment they mumbled at him when he asked. After a moment, each one would “fall out” under the spirit and men would catch him or her and lower them safely to the ground. As he smeared fragrant oil on my forehead and pushed me backwards, I wondered if the others felt as little as I did in that moment, but were too afraid to admit it, just like I was.



When I was younger, this age was very important to me. I stood at the calendar hanging on the wall in my room counting how old I would be each subsequent year, always stopping in the year 2000, when I would be fourteen. I could barely fathom being so old and grown up. Nothing particularly special happened this year, which was rather disappointing.


If you use Curlz MT, Comic Sans, or Papyrus fonts in any setting, I will instantly judge you.


My mom once slapped me for using this word in front of her. I don’t remember why I said it, but I can still feel the sting of each of her fingers across the right side of my face.



My birthstone is garnet. Synthetic garnets always look black, which is rather disappointing.


Since age sixteen, I have run out of gas approximately twenty or so times. The scene is familiar: stranded on the side of the road, I grab my things and prepare to hike down to the nearest gas station a mile or two away. Once there, I grab the cheapest red gasoline container/siphon, pay the attendant (who is usually judging me with his/her eyes), and fill up my meager container at the pump outside. Once I haul that back to my car, being careful to not let it touch any part of my body or clothing beside my hand, I attempt to empty the contents into my gas tank while cars go whizzing past mere inches away. Then, in what I like to call the Drive of Shame, I must drive back to said gas station and fill up my tank.



One of the favorite pastimes of thirteen-year-old girls is to change their handwriting. I blame my unpopularity at this age on my inability to free-hand bubble lettering, which was especially popular.


Yes, I was homeschooled; kindergarten through twelfth grade. No, I was not unsocialized. No, I do not plan on homeschooling my future children.


Around the age of four, one of my Sunday School teachers convinced me that my name was hyphenated. I have a stack of drawings and crafts from that time period all signed “Mary-Christa”.



If I had been a boy, I would have been named Ian Christopher.


Bartenders and servers constantly accuse me of having a fake I.D. After discovering it’s not, they often tell me how grateful I’ll be that I look so young when I am older.



Jaramillo (Hod-uh-meal) is Old Spanish. It means “little hill.” It is not pronounced

Harr-uh-mee-yo, thanks.



I hope that if I’m famous someday, it’s actually for something. I’ve never made a sex tape and my butt is average-to-small size, so those are out.



For many years, I wished my name was Lindsay. I dreamed of one day changing my name to Lindsay. I would be so cool. Then, Lindsay Lohan came along (back when she was cute. Think: The Parent Trap years) and I WANTED MY NAME TO BE LINDSAY. I am so glad my name isn’t Lindsay.



“We’re going to play a name game today! Everybody go around the circle and say their name and their favorite food that starts with the same letter.”

“My name’s Amanda and I like apples!” (And so on…)

My answer was always macaroni and cheese.


Never call me just “Mary”. That is a right reserved for the government and teachers on the first day of class.



The cleaning crew at my office likes to clean everything, including my computer monitors, with harsh chemicals. This leaves very obnoxious, very permanent streaks on my computer monitors. After several attempts to obscure my two monitors from the cleaning crew’s reach to no avail, I left on note on each monitor asking them to Please Don’t Clean the Screens, even including a little pictorial of a computer monitor with the circle around it and a slash through it since they don’t speak very much English. The next day, I found the notes in a slightly different place and my computer monitors streaked with cleaner. This seemed incredibly funny to me, as if I was just leaving myself a reminder to not clean the monitors because they were going to or something.



I decided to name my yet-to-be-conceived first born daughter this after hearing Freelance Whales’ song Broken Horse.



I pressed my face up against the glass of Gadget’s bowl. She was a pretty, bright orange gold fish. The prettiest fish ever, maybe. I put my hand into the water and chased her around the bowl, my stubby little fingers not quite fast enough to catch her. After a few moments, I wore her out and was able to grab her by a fin. I pulled her out of the bowl and laid her in my other hand, marveling at her beauty and petting her like the dog I wished I had.



David sat across from me at the coffee shop, musing about the emotions in art on a nearby wall. He kept using what I thought were very learned terms that I had never heard before, including quitoxic. He asked me what emotions they evoked in me, and (trying to impress him) I nodded my head and squinted my eyes slightly as I agreed that a particular piece was “very quitoxic, very quitoxic indeed. It has such a quitoxicity that tears come to my eyes when I look at it.”



For many years of my life, I lived in constant fear that the Rapture would happen at any moment. This was perpetuated by two main reasons: the Left Behind book series (by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins) and my mother’s constant reminding that I need not worry about college or growing up because we would be Raptured first.



Grandmother’s neighbor, Mr. Zimmerman, used to have a very large garden in his backyard, in which he grew lots of squash, among other things. One year I was forced to eat so much squash while visiting Grandmother that I threw it up back up rather violently. I haven’t been able to eat squash since.



In the state of Tennessee, if you do not pay a parking ticket within six months of its issue, they send you a nasty letter about paying your ticket which is now $101.29 within thirty days or they will kindly revoke your driver’s license for an entire year. Note: contesting this on the grounds that you never physically received the ticket in the first place and this is the first time you’ve heard about it will get you nowhere.


In my first three years of driving I got approximately seven flat tires. Once, I drove over a pair of wire cutters and one of my passengers shouted from the back seat “You ran over a baby!”



The term for that thing that hangs down in the back of your throat and helps you swallow or something. Also, one of my favorite words.



As a little girl, every Christmas I got a new Christmas dress. It was always purple, always velour. I loved running my hand along the sleeves, feeling the fabric between my fingers.



There are a lot of rather hilarious “methods” used to remove warts at home. My mother tired all of these in attempts to rid my left knee of the patch that had grown there, including (but not limited to): burying a dishrag in the back yard, applying castor oil to them, duct taping my knee, and duct taping banana peels to my knee, all to no avail. One day I fell going in to church and scraped them all off.



This has always been an intriguing phrase to me. Whenever I hear it referenced, I always imagine a cartoon pirate map leading to the spot, and a literal, giant black X on the ground marking the spot.



Lauren and I raced up to the street corner and jumped out of the car. The Dead End sign was on the ground, but the same rush of stealing a street sign coursed through my veins. The sun reflected off the bright reflective yellow, blinding us for a moment as we stooped on either side of the sign to pick it up. We lifted it with ease, almost launching it off the ground with our adrenaline – it was surprisingly light. I popped the trunk open and we hurriedly slid it under the spare tire cover before slamming it closed again and speeding off, leaving only the smell of burnt rubber as I popped the clutch.



It has always puzzled me how “zzzz” came to be the slang for sleeping. Snoring doesn’t sound like that.

[The End.]

I’m back.

•August 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I intended to spend much of the summer writing, but alas, here I am back in Tennessee, behind a desk, without so much as writing a single syllable over the summer. I’ll try to fix that.

But it was a very summer lovely indeed.

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Laban.


•June 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

…and in those endless shades of grey, you will find the truth. A truth much more subtle and pliable than you ever imagined. One that contains both hope and healing. And it will be yours and yours alone.

Photo courtesy of Jill Casey


•May 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

On afternoons so long and sweet we forgot who we were and pretended to be Parisian debutantes. These were the happiest days of our lives, lost in the sights and smells of a hopelessly romantic illusion of an unattainable life. It was just as well; we wouldn’t have liked it half so much if it were true.

mother’s day.

•May 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

a little night music floats across the water from a distant campground as he pours himself another cup of coffee.  he talks about his mother and I talk about mine.  we smile and drink and reminisce about the past.  our laughter fades into the night and we sit in silence, listening to the sounds of the crickets bouncing off the pines.  another year has passed without the faintest sense of regret.


•April 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

It was on those summer nights so long ago that I wished I was someone else. Many years later I became someone else, but not the person I once wished to be. It was a strange feeling, to not know the person I was, nor the person I had become. I was merely a series of essays, written with an artful hand in elegant prose. I wasn’t a person, not really, but instead a good subject for a short story.